European motorhome Travel- Vanlife

How to Go again – time to start planning

As the end of another season as campsite Wardens draws to a close, we have to start thinking about our winter break, obviously with little to no desire to spend the time in a probably cold and damp uk.

Fiver says this will be the warmest sunniest winter the uk has ever seen ……

Once again we will set our wheels in motion and cross to the land of Tapas and cafe con Leche

But how to get there ?

There is alas no easy answer to the question “drive or sail to Spain!”

So to help our own minds we are taking a completely mathematical approach, and probably ignoring it !

A quick calculation of mileages first though, using Camping Los Pinos at Denia (our base last year) as our destination. The starting point for the journey shall be Glastonbury – did you know we have lived here for 9 months of the year ?

Firstly lets try Dover, being the busy port in the uk it offers up some of the most reasonably priced options to cross the channel.

Glastonbury to Dover comes in at about 206 miles via the A303

Paloma, has performed relatively fault less on the past few European tours and has always been fairly good on fuel averaging around 26 mpg over the last three years.

So 8 gallons of diesel and an estimated overall price of £5.50 per gallon would bring the fuel cost for the trip to Dover in at about £45

Our leap of faith booking a ferry to Europe with aferry

Three options here Calais or Dunkirk or a hop on the Tunnel

A quick look on A Ferry sees us somewhere near Dover – Calais one way £83 thanks to the over sized motorhome and Dover-Dunkirk £ 76 and with the Tunnel option £126

The difference distance from the ferry ports on the northern tip of France is negligible at this point with an estimated 1120 miles to the stop in Spain.

This sees our Fuel for the journey costing around £ 240 and assumes a toll-free journey throughout.

Estimate Total cost

Calais-£ 83 + £45 + £240 = £368

Dunkirk- £ 76 + £45 + £240 = £361

Tunnel -£ 126 + £45 + £240 = £ 411

A more expensive ferry option to France would be to use Portsmouth, but maybe the cost is levelled out by it being the closest port to Glastonbury?

Back to our mathematics

Glastonbury to Portsmouth is about 112 miles vis the A303

Le Harve to Denia avoiding Tolls is approx 1000 miles

So Total fuel cost come in at about £235

The day time crossing taking a straggling 5 hours on the same date is £124 – so a total cost of £379

So almost nothing to compare in the cost front, but by using Portsmouth, for us at least we can avoid the journey across to Dover or Folkestone

The most obvious route would be to sail directly to Spain, but with only one ferry operator offering any routes, will the cost be to high for the extra convince ?

The ferry from Portsmouth to Santander or Bilbao with Brittany Ferries on the same dates comes in at £ 330

This price includes an inside cabin.

Glastonbury to Portsmouth is About 112 miles and then the Spanish port onwards across to the med and Denia is about 450 miles

So our fuel cost are almost halved with an estimate £120 for the 560 mile journey

So sailing into Spain has a total cost of £ 450

The option of sailing to Spain increases the overall cost of getting to Denia by only a few pounds but saves a lot of miles


Ferry to France

Day 1 – Glastonbury to Dover to Calais/Dunkirk or Via Tunnel – overnight at either park and ride or in Tunnel Carpark

Day 2 – Calais/Dunkirk/ city Europe To Bougres

Day 3 – to Millau

Day 4- cross into spain and head for approximately Barcelona

Day 5- mid /late afternoon at Los Pinos

Ferry into Spain

Day 1 to Portsmouth– overnight stop. (Unless you really want to set off at 05 o’clock, My days of silly o clock times are long gone as as we have a fully functional camper why would we !

Day 2 – depart Portsmouth and sail to Santander/Bilbao

Day 3 – arrive Spain, PM the next day – drive a couple of miles for an overnight stop

Day 4 – Zaragoza- so as not to have spent all day driving, although it’s a short enough journey if you share the driving

Day 5- arrive Denia

Conclusion – Glastonbury to Los Pinos is slightly better value going via Calais than Spain, by a few pounds In terms of the time factor the ferry to Spain would win every time ….

Drive or sail to Spain

Drive or sail to Spain?

But as you know, I have never been one for a complete plan, I like to take a look around, see something I want to visit and go for it, may be a combination of the two is the way forward, sail into Spain and back out of France – but who knows

However do bare in mind if you are travelling to southern Spain, such as Malaga or further then the figures sway more and more towards the ferry directly to Spain

For the purpose of these calculations, I have assumed….

26 mpg for the motorhome, based on over 20k miles of Data

£5.50 average price of fuel in the uk

Actual ferry costs from the operators’ website based on a 8 metre motorhome. Mileages taken from the power of Google avoiding Tolls if possible

whats your favourite why to escape in the winter ?


6 thoughts on “How to Go again – time to start planning

  • Portsmouth to Bilbao every time you can use my discount code will save you a bit S0(zero)3A77

    • That is amazingly kind – thank you !

  • Jennie

    Ferry Portsmouth to Santander, drive to Fuengirola via Gibraltar.
    See you in The Rovers Return some time if you make it !
    Good Luck with your travels drive safe xxx

  • Hi, I have just read your informative post on travel routes to Spain, i to have used th same calculations, and the money side of it is very little, the time driving is a lot, in the summer I think is ok, winter months through France with the bad weather maybe not,
    Another option is Poole to Cherbourg which is about £300 return,
    We have opted for Portsmouth to Santander,
    I looked at their website and chose the cheapest sailings which can be a big saving, mine cost £550 with outside cabins, inside ones fully booked, we also take an electric travel kettle into the room with brew kit and nibbles, the meals on board are about £8 each, which is not to bad,
    The fuel in Spain is a bit cheaper than everywhere else, if you go off the motorways,
    We are heading to pinoso, then to elcampello which is between Alicante and Benidorm,
    Then along the coast, maybe, we have three months to decide,
    Happy travels, and keep inspiring people to travel,

    • To be honest we had always poo popped the Spanish ferry as expensive, as on the face of its it was twice the price, but once you realise that you can save days, and miles of fuel the ferry becomes the obvious choice !

      We are undecided on a final destination this year, so as always we will go with which way the wind blows us ……

  • Katherine

    Headed east this trip, butTunnel for us every time. Easier with dogs and paid for with Tesco tokens.


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